Dog adoption is an undeniably positive thing — it’s no small feat of kindness to take in a homeless animal and give him a second shot at a great life. But there are also many reasons not to adopt a dog, and some of them may surprise you!
There’s no one-size-fits-all guide to owning a dog, and that includes the reasons you get your dog in the first place. But before you go to pick out your new pup, take a moment to see if any of these 10 dog adoption red flags apply to you and 10 Reasons Not to Have a Dog.
10 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Adopt a Dog
1. To Teach Your Kids About Responsibility
If you’re a parent, you may be tempted to get your kids a dog for several reasons. They may be begging you for a puppy day in and day out, or you might feel like they’re ready to learn some responsibility by caring for another living thing.
Though these types of dog adoptions are common, they rarely work out as planned. Children simply don’t have the life experience to understand the time and energy involved in caring for a dog — or the importance of doing it right.
Usually, the parents end up being the primary (or sole) caretakers of the dog, while the children only participate in playtime… or, even worse, get bored with the dog and ignore him altogether.
Don’t adopt a dog with the goal of teaching your kids how to be responsible pet owners. Only adopt a dog if you are personally ready to love and care for one yourself.
2. As a Surprise Gift
Dog ownership is a huge commitment, and it’s not one to be taken lightly. It’s important that the dog and owner choose each other and that their lifestyles, personalities and needs align.
Because of this, adopting a dog to give to someone as a surprise gift is a terrible idea.
If you need a gift for an aspiring dog owner, don’t take it upon yourself to choose their new pet for them. Instead, offer to cover the adoption fees as a gift instead, or get your loved one a gift certificate to a local pet store.
3. Because You Feel Sorry for the Dog
You walk into the animal shelter on a whim and find your heart wrenched by all those sad puppy-dog eyes staring back at you from the kennels. All those homeless dogs from troubled pasts, just waiting for a kind soul to take them in and love them… who wouldn’t tear up a bit?
But pity alone isn’t a good reason to adopt a dog. Of course you want to make a difference, but if you’re not ready or able to provide the care a dog needs, you shouldn’t bring him home with you.
Get a dog because it’s the right thing for both of you, not just one of you.
4. To Keep Your Other Dog Company
If your current dog suffers from separation anxiety, it can be tempting to get another dog to keep him company while you’re at work. But it’s wrong to view your new dog solely as a companion for your existing dog — he’s his own being with his own wants and needs.
There’s no guarantee that your new dog and old dog will get along. And introducing a new dog will disrupt your current dog’s territory, which can lead to ugly fights and general unhappiness for everyone involved.
If your dog is lonely during the day, hire a dog walker or take him to doggy daycare rather than adopting a friend for him. And if you do get a second dog, make sure it’s because you want one, not because you think your existing dog wants one!
5. If You’re Not Willing to Adjust Your Routines
Of course you want a dog that fits your lifestyle, but no matter which one you pick, you’ll need to make some changes to your routine. Your dog will need to eat, exercise, go potty and get attention multiple times a day, and it’s your responsibility to make sure those things happen.
So if you’re not ready to get up earlier to walk your dog before work, or cut back on your TV time to run around with him outside after dinner, don’t adopt! Only get a dog if you’re ready to make his routine part of your routine.
6. As a Prop or Accessory
Dogs may be cute, but they’re so much more than that. Unfortunately, many people adopt dogs solely because they look cool, then neglect them when the novelty wears off and the responsibility sets in.
Don’t get a dog solely as an accessory, prop, or aesthetic enhancement. Dogs are living things and they need to be treated as such, no matter what they look like.
7. As Motivation for Exercise
Think adopting a dog will make you more likely to get off the couch and go out for a walk, jog or run?
Well, think again. Old habits die hard, and if you’re relying on your dog to make you exercise, it’s more likely that neither of you will get the physical activity you need.
It doesn’t matter how lazy you’re feeling on any given day. Dogs need consistent daily exercise, and you need to be the one to take the initiative and get the two of you outside.
Walking your dog is beneficial for both of you, but as his owner, you need to put his needs first. He’s not there to get you fit — you’re there to take care of him!
8. If You’re Going Through Major Life Changes
About to move, have a baby or start a new job with longer hours? If so, hold off on adopting a dog until things settle down.
Getting adopted is a huge ordeal for a dog. New people, places, things and routines can be confusing and overwhelming, and he’ll need time to adjust to them.
Big changes like moves and new babies disrupt that adjustment period and can cause severe anxiety and behavioral problems. So wait until your life stabilizes, then head to the shelter.
9. To Protect Your Home and Family
A dog can deter burglars, alert you to intruders and defend your family against various dangers. And the idea of having a pet that can do all these things is certainly appealing!
But there’s no guarantee that the dog you adopt will have the instincts and personality to serve as your protector. Your “guard dog” may end up licking a burglar’s face or watching silently as a strange vehicle pulls into your driveway.
When you adopt a dog, do so because you want a pet, not because you expect him to perform a job. You can certainly train him to protect you, but you’ll need to be prepared for the possibility that he’s a lover, not a fighter!
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10. If You’re Not Ready for a Lifetime Commitment
Dogs can live for ten years or more, and they need care and attention every day of their lives. It doesn’t matter what else you’re dealing with — your dog will still need you, and you’ll still need to provide for him.
Before adopting a dog, make sure you’re truly ready to take care of him for the rest of his life. Never get a dog if you think you may have to give him up at some point, as rehoming can be traumatic for a dog.
Research everything you can about dog ownership, and consider dog sitting or volunteering at a shelter before adopting. You’ll gain valuable knowledge and experience that will tell you whether you’re ready for the lifetime commitment of dog ownership.
"If you think dogs can’t count, try putting three dog biscuits in your pocket and then give him only two."
-- Phil Pastoret